Shareef Ali joins the company of Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Kate Miller-Heidke: Web 2.0 Love Songs

Last year I wrote a tune titled “Wikipedia Brown”, using the format, policy and idiosyncrasies of that wholly addictive interweb entity as a literary vehicle to illustrate various aspects of my romantic past and present.

I did not realize at the time that my title was shared with some bigshot actor-comedian jerk named B.J. Nor was I aware that I was soon to become a pioneer in a groundbreaking new sub-subgenre of love songs: those making explicit mention of Web 2.0 phenomena.

Exhibit A: “Google You”, a forlorn lament penned and set to music by art-star couple Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer:

Exhibit B: “Are You Fucking Kidding Me? (Facebook song)”, by Kate Miller-Heidke (who admittedly is otherwise unknown to me):

Despite the surprise and humor of hearing references to relatively new fixtures in our cultural landscape, there’s nothing extraordinary about communications technology making an appearance in our popular sentimental songs. 1899’s “Hello! Ma Baby” mentioned the telephone, developed a mere thirteen years earlier (I hope you’ll presume with me that new gadgets did not pervade our common life so swiftly a century ago). More recently, I recall cocking my head when Billy Corgan sang about Caller ID, or when ‘Licia said in the love rap to “You Don’t Know My Name“: “Hold on, my cell phone breakin’ up”. Though I suppose it’s worth noting that these newest works are distributed virally by the very media used as subjects.

Each of the two examples, however, seem to have clear antecedents in terms of sentiment. “Google You” is a stalker song, not unlike “Every Breath You Take“, while “Are You Fucking Kidding Me?” has clear strains of “I Will Survive” in its lyrical code.

Not to toot my own horn whatsoever, but I’m having a hard time identifying the ancestor to my own number. Can anybody think of a song that obsessively catalogues one’s amorous trials and triumphs without analogizing to an interactive, collaborative, user-oriented information hub? Do you know of any other Web 2.0 love songs, so that our new musical movement may have more than three hallmark compositions?


Every new blog seems to start out with a sort of shrugged-shoulders ‘I guess this is my statement of purpose, or theme, or whatever’, so here’s mine. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for some time now, even went ahead and claimed for my own months ago (I wasn’t about to let that fucker from MySpace and YouTube take my shit again). But I’ve sat on it, not knowing quite which of my quotidian thoughts were worth rendering, at least at greater length than 140 characters. But now I think I’ve got something to latch on to.

I, Shareef Ali, am a songwriter, so this will be a songwriter’s blog. I envision my starting point will be to record some of my reflections about moments in particular songs that I find particularly poignant, clever, well-constructed or what have you (yes, I do have a few examples already mentally lined up). Coming from a compositional background as well, I will also look at how the music supports the meaning of the song. Dare I assert that there is a dearth of serious theoretical analysis of highly lyrical music, attending equally to both its musical structure and literary content? I do, quickly adding that I won’t be doing too much to fill that void. In fact, I imagine I may waste valuable time and bandwidth discussing some pretty insipid stuff, because there was a line in there that somehow just did the trick for me. I also may at some point start discussing my own songs, whether already established in my repertoire or in the pipeline.

Important to note that this will not be a ‘new music blog’; in fact, it will probably be decidedly ‘old music’ or at least last year’s jams. I’m not so interested in breaking/promoting new things as I am in bringing fresh eyes to familiar ones, especially if they seem mundane or taken for granted. Also, I can make no guarantee that politics, life philosophy, or some other random bullshit won’t find its way into this record. I’ve got to amuse myself sometimes.

Final note: I was jolted from my blogging inertia by a conversation today with Cyrus St. Rid, wherein we swore to a challenge. Each of us starts a blog today, and writes an entry every other day until one of us drops the ball. Loser has to visit the other (Cyrus is in Portland, Oakland is my home). Taking a road trip to see a friend in a supposedly lovely part of the country I’ve never been isn’t much of a disincentive, so I’ll just have to be on the ball with this thing for its own sake.